Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Info on Justice Camps – Frank Kitamoto (OH0042)


They were Justice camps. So there were, I think, I don’t know, about nine or ten Justice camps that were run by the Justice Department. And they were the places where people who were thought to be really security risks were taken. Mostly because… well, most, I think almost all of them were Issei or non–citizens or non–aliens, is what citizens were called. So my dad said he was born in Watsonville, California, but he couldn’t prove it. He didn’t have any records so he was probably considered an alien.

And my mother said that she thought maybe he was under suspicion because he commuted to Seattle every day and because he was commuting every day he would take flowers for the greenhouses into Seattle. And most of the greenhouses are along Pleasant Beach and Rich Passage, and along through there, so that’s where most of the ships going to Bremerton were. And also because he was selling rings to Japanese sailors, and, and she thought maybe that was why they might have rounded him up. But it could also have been because he was… couldn’t prove he was a citizen, either, so…

Video Interview — April 2007
To see this interview in its entirety, go to the Densho website archives. You will have to register to be allowed access to their archives. Once in the archive, visit the Visual History Collections: Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community Collection.

Frank Kitamoto

Frank Kitamoto was two years old when his family was evacuated and he was five years old when they returned to Bainbridge Island. Before evacuation, his father was taken by the FBI and later interned in a US Department of Justice Camp. His father was reunited with the family in Manzanar. Since the 1970s Frank has done extensive research into his family history as well as the history of Nikkei on Bainbridge Island. He started the BIJAC oral history program in the 80s and developed a slide show educational outreach presentation, which he brings to classrooms and other public events.